Physician Assistant Programs in Colorado

If you are a Colorado resident who wants to become a physician assistant, you have some choices. There are four accredited on campus programs in the state of Colorado – Colorado Mesa University, Red Rocks Community College, Rocky Vista University, and University of Colorado. Aspiring PAs can also complete their choice of online programs without leaving the state. This guide will help you determine which programs you may want to consider and why.

Online PA Programs vs On-Campus Programs in Colorado

You need to know the advantages of both on campus and online programs before making a decision about which physician assistant program format is best for you. Some people simply learn best in a brick and mortar classroom environment. Some people need a program that offers the structure of specific class time – which can be achieved through both on campus and some online programs. Others need to maximize flexibility, which means that an online program that is completed on their own time is the best option.

Last Updated: 12/21/20

On Campus PA Programs

You are most likely already familiar with the on campus program format. Students attend courses on campus at set times during the week. When it is time to complete clinical components, some hands on learning may be completed on campus while other clinical requirements are completed off site. On campus programs offer a consistent structure, and the opportunity to meet and connect with peers in real life.

There are two types of online programs that aspiring physician assistants can apply to:

Online PA Programs

Some of the programs that utilize online components all coursework to be completed online, making them fully online programs. Many of these online programs are able to place students in clinical settings near their community, so that they do not need to uproot to complete any part of the program. An online program may require a couple of trips to campus during the course of your degree, but no more than that.

Online programs can still have some of the same benefits boasted by on campus programs. For instance, while you may not frequently see your peers in real life, you may still be connecting regularly through live video streaming.

Hybrid PA Programs

Some programs offer their coursework in a mixture of on campus and online formats. This makes these programs what is called hybrid programs. This may allow less flexibility than the fully online program, but commuting time is still reduced with this format, and online components may offer flexibility on when deliverables are completed (always check with the program). Currently, there are no hybrid PA programs based out of Colorado.

Physician Assistant Program Online Learning Formats

When choosing between online programs you will want to consider how the online programs are delivered. Program delivery is classified into two types:

  • Synchronous – courses are attended in real time, with all participants logging in simultaneously to interact. Synchronous learning can be delivered through a variety of mediums – from live chats on message boards to classes conducted via a virtual classroom with video streaming.
  • Asynchronous – courses are completed at the time of a student’s choosing, so long as all due dates are adhered to. Deliverables may include reading, watching pre-recorded lectures, and other activities.

How Long do Physician Assistant Programs Typically Take to Complete?

A Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree usually takes 2.5 to 4 years to complete (PA programs are approximately 27 months, according to American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)). This time frame includes classroom requirements in addition to any clinical requirements that you need to complete. Other program options, such as programs for those who are already physician assistants but do not hold a master’s degree, may take only a year to complete.

Online Physician Assistant Programs Available to Colorado Students

The following online physician assistant programs are available to students in Colorado. Note that some of these options are for students who are already certified PAs but do not hold a master’s degree:

Fully online PA programs

If you wish to become a PA, here are eight physician assistant programs that are completely online. Some require you to be online at scheduled times for certain classes, discussions or exams; others do not. Some also require you to be NCCPA certified in order to apply.

School Degree level Live classes On-campus requirements Length of program Accreditation
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences


Doctor of science in physician- assistant studies (DScPAS) No None 3 years, but accelerated program is two years ARC-PA accreditation
Pace University


MPAS for already- certified PAs No None 12 months N/A (program for already certified PAs)
Touro College


MPAS for already- certified PAs No None 12 months N/A (program for already certified PAs)
University of Nebraska – Medical Center


MPAS for already-certified PAs, or MPAS/MPH dual No None Five semesters N/A (program for already certified PAs)
University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley


MPAS for already- certified PAs No None 28 months N/A (program for already certified PAs)
University of Wisconsin – Madison


MPAS Some First summer semester / 12 weeks 36 months ARC-PA accreditation

1ARC-PA probation is a temporary accreditation status for programs that are making substantial progress toward all accreditation standards but need more time to become compliant.

2ARC-PA provisional means that a program has the plans and resources needed to meet all accreditation standards but has not yet enrolled students; or that a program is demonstrating progress toward the standards as it prepares for its first graduating class.

Hybrid physician assistant programs

Here are three hybrid physician assistant programs, all of which require a combination of online and on-campus work. 

School Degree level Live classes On-campus requirements Length of program Accreditation
Miami Dade College


MDC-PA, M.H.Sc. Some All clinicals are in Florida 27 months ARC-PA accreditation
University of North Dakota MPAS Some 15 weeks 24 months ARC-PA accreditation

On Campus PA Programs in Colorado

The following physician assistant programs can be found on Colorado campuses. There are campuses all over the state.

Program City Time to Complete GPA Requirement
Colorado Mesa University Grand Junction 27 months 3.0
Red Rocks Community College Lakewood 27 months 3.0 science
Rocky Vista University Parker 27 months 2.8
University of Colorado Aurora 35 months 3.0

General Tips on How to Become a Physician Assistant in Colorado

To become a physician assistant in Colorado, here are some common steps:

  1. Earn your Physician Assistant Degree – This will take you about two to three and a half years. Look for physician assistant programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) to ensure you meet certification requirements in the future.
  2. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) – You can learn more about the PANCE on our guide to becoming a physician assistant.
  3. Get Licensed – Check with the Colorado Medical Board as early as possible to make sure you are on track to meet all current requirements for licensure. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), licensure in Colorado requires graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the PANCE exam. Current certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is not required. This is a high-level overview, make sure to check out Colorado’s state board for exact requirements.